173 130th Street • Deer Park, WI 54007
507.923.6251 •
CSA Newsletter: Week Eleven
24 August 2016
scroll down to read what is in your CSA box, storage tips, recipes, and see photos of the farm this week
Annual CSA Member Harvest Party and Pumpkin Pick
Saturday SEPTEMBER 24th 4-6pm
friends and family welcomed (no dogs please)
details to follow
A Glimpse at the Challenges CSA Faces Today

This week, we will continue the series we started a few weeks ago about Community Supported Agriculture. Click on these links to read newsletters from Week Seven ("From the Beginning") and Week Eight ("A Brief History of CSA") if you have not done so already.

When the concept of Community Supported Agriculture sparked interest in the Midwest more than 25 years ago, only a small group of farmers and farm members knew about CSA. It wasn't until recently, within the last 10 years or so, that there has been a surge of CSA farms in our region and more farm members than ever before. For the first time ever, farmers, who rely on having a "mutually supportive, long-term relationship" are having a difficult time retaining farm members. While there are many possible reasons for this--families sending kids to college and eating less, more farmers markets to visit, travel during the summer, grocery stores carrying local produce, etc.--there are also services offered by companies marketing with the term CSA and confusing everyone by altering the definition of Community Supported Agriculture. The New York Times recently printed a story that is worth reading if you want to become more aware of the challenges CSA farms are facing:
"When Community Supported Agriculture Is Not What It Seems". What is happening in New York is happening right here in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and farmers across the region are wondering, how do we help our members understand the deeper value of their membership and connection to our farm. 

Over the past several years, Adam and I have tried to clarify, for ourselves and for our members, the meaning of Sweet Top Farm membership. Words like "convenience" and "box delivery service" and opportunities to make choices solely on price are tainting the membership experience, and I cringe a little bit when someone inquires about joining the farm because they want groceries delivered to their house. We want to be more than just a service for a member's family. The personal connection we make with our members is one that strengthens our farm and we hope encourages members to return year after year. You are making a difference in the world by being our farm member. Your commitment to our farm:

connects you with the people growing your food and flowers and the land where the crops grow
helps you become more knowledgeable about local food and flower production
supports a small, local family farm and organic agriculture
contributes to the nourishment of healthier, more resilient soils
is an investment in the future of a more localized agricultural economy

In times of abundance, our members are the first to benefit, and when we have a crop loss, our members experience this as well. When a farm experiences a major crop failure due to a natural disaster like flooding or to disease (read last week’s newsletter about our tomato crop: Week 10), it can be a huge financial strain.  If we relied only on farmers market or wholesale accounts to market our produce, we would have lost all the money we invested in our tomato crop and received nothing in return. Because you, our farm members, support us from the beginning of the season knowing there are risks and rewards every season, our financial loss is less. With growing conditions becoming more challenging due to climate change and banks less willing to loan money to small beginning, farmers, your support is critical to our success.

While we could write for pages and pages about the challenges facing Community Supported Agriculture today, we feel it is most important that you understand your role in the success of CSA. We hope your experience as a Sweet Top Farm Member has been a positive one so far. If there is anything we can do to help make your experience better, please let us know. We are always seeking ways to strengthen our membership and invite your comments and suggestions.

Details about individual vegetables are below. Enjoy this week’s harvest.

Your Farmers,
Megan, Adam, and Edith

This week's tomatoes are from our friends at Turnip Rock Farm, an organic farm in Clear Lake, WI. Where are Sweet Top Farm tomatoes? Read last week's newsletter to learn more: Week 10: Unfortunate Tomato Update.
What's in your box and
where does it go?

  Fridge? Bag?
basil no countertop in vase
beets-loose yes plastic
carrots yes plastic
cucumbers yes plastic
garlic no countertop
green beans yes plastic
jalapeno yes plastic
onion no countertop or fridge
peppers yes plastic
potatoes no paper

radishes OR zucchini OR squash
yes plastic

Turnip Rock Farm Tomatoes
no countertop



once cut, in container
Quinoa Stuffed Carmen Italian Peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 jalepeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup quinoa, prepared

1/2 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 cup cheese, 1/4 cup reserved for top
2 Carmen peppers, halved and seeded

1/4 cup plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange prepared Carmen peppers in a large casserole dish. Sauté onion for 3-5 minutes, until it has begun to soften and turn translucent. Add jalepeno and sauté for 3-5 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a teaspoon or two of oil. Place ground beef in the pan, sprinkle with taco seasoning and, using a spatula, stir frequently, breaking apart the pieces and allowing to brown on all sides. This should take 7-10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine quinoa, beef, and cheese. Stuff peppers (really pack it in) with quinoa mix and top with extra cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove foil for the last 10 or so minutes of baking. Serve with dollop of yogurt and a squeeze of lime juice.
Adapted from

Raw Carrot Salad with Green Beans and Ginger Lime Dressing
4 carrots
2 green onions
2 handfuls of green beans
Handful fresh chopped cilantro
2 Tbs Black Sesame Seeds

1 Tbs grated and chopped fresh ginger
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp honey
Pinch of chili flakes
Season with salt and pepper.

Peel and slice the carrots into thin sticks and place in a bowl. Chop the green onion and cilantro and add to the bowl with the sesame seeds.Cook the green beans in a pan of boiling water for 5-7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water and add to the salad and mix everything together.

Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve!
Adapted from

Click these recipes for additional ideas:
I found a monarch chrysalis on a flower I cut. We put it in Edith's butterfly pavilion and after a week and a half, a beautiful monarch emerged. 
Details about today's
CSA box

This will likely be the last of the basil this season. Enjoy with Turnip Rock's tomatoes and some fresh mozzarella!

Red beets that are loose in the bottom of the box.

Another beautiful and crunchy bunch.

The cukes are starting to slow down, but we still have several for the box this week.

This variety is called Porcelain and is slightly spicy raw but mellows nicely with cooked.

Green Beans
A nice bag of green beans to round out a summery box.

The small, pointy green pepper in your box.

The skins have started to dry down on the onions.

These are all sweet peppers--bell and pointed Italian. The red or red/green pointed pepper--Carmen--is one of our favorites. It's a reliable producer and is always one of the sweetest! The gold pointed pepper--Escamillo--is the cousin of Carmen and equally as delicious. There is also a bell pepper or two. The peppers look great right now, so we expect to have a couple more weeks of these delicious beauties.

A variety called Red-Gold for its red skin and gold flesh. Slightly sweet and great roasted, mashed, cut into fries, and brings a unique look to potato salad.

Radishes OR Summer Squash or Zucchini
The zucchini and squash are coming to an end (sad for some, a relief for others). Our goal was to push the plants through to the end of the month, but we won't make it to next week (9 weeks of squash and zucchini is still pretty darn good). In fact, we didn't even have enough for everyone, so if you didn't get squash or zucchini, you have radishes instead.

Turnip Rock Farm Tomatoes
Although we are unable to harvest our own, our neighbors who grow certified organic vegetables had more than they needed this week and were willing to share with our farm members.

Either red flesh or yellow flesh--both have been great. This really is the last one. The vines got mowed down after harvest on Monday. 
Above: Adam seeded three acres of cover crop for next season's vegetable fields and an additional 6 acres of winter rye that will be cut for mulch next season. Everything is germinating well with all the rain in the past week.

Below: The view out our bedroom window of crops for the coming months.
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173 130th Street
Deer Park, WI 54007

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